The audience was deathly silent, barely breathing, as they witnessed the macabre magic show presented to them on the small stage.
At first, the act was no different than any of the others that had performed at the club. The smiling magician in top hat and tails had bounded across the stage with a flourish and looked confident under the harsh glare of the spotlight. He charmed the audience with his humor at the same time delighting them with his tricks. Playing cards vanished and reappeared. Colorful scarves floated in mid-air. A white rabbit was plucked from his upturned top hat. Laughter and applause followed each trick.
It was during the rings act that things began to fall apart. The magician pulled the rings from his jacket and stood for a moment, staring at them like he’d forgotten their purpose. Regaining his composure, he mumbled an apology and made a show of proving that the thin metal circles were, indeed, solid. Then, after he’d joined the rings together with a quick flick of his wrists, he fumbled them and they clattered to the wooden stage floor. There was a gasp from the audience, followed by a heavy silence.
Again, the magician apologized, but the words were stuttered and slurred. He shook his head, as if to clear it, and stumbled to his prop chest. He bent down into the chest, nearly falling over, and tossed aside cards and flowers and scarves until he found the item he was searching for. Standing up, he swayed a bit then held aloft the hand saw and requested the assistance of an audience member.
No one was quick to volunteer.
The magician wiped beads of sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his jacket and scanned the audience with glassy eyes. Leveling his slack-jawed gaze on a young woman seated in the front row, he crooked a finger at her, beckoning her up on stage.
The woman hesitated, but not wanting to hold up the show, she slowly stood up and walked forward. Taking the magician’s offered hand, she climbed the three steps up to the stage. She gave the audience an uneasy wave and smiled before laying down on the narrow table the magician had pulled from the wings. Her eyes widened at the sight of the saw, shaking in the magician’s unsteady hands as he raised it over her. She whimpered, but remained still, gripping the sides of the table.
Anyone who thought the magician’s shift in demeanor was all a part of the act, quickly changed their minds once the screaming began.
The woman wailed as the magician, if you could still call him that, furiously ground the saw into her thigh. Blood splattered across the stage and the stunned faces of everyone in the first row. The woman’s screams continued even as the crazed magician sawed through her femur, but she was drowned out by the chaos in the audience. People shrieked and clamored over each other to reach the exits, knocking over chairs and tables. Meanwhile, above the melee, the magician gnawed on the woman’s now completely severed leg.
No one noticed the white rabbit hop silently out the back door.
And so it ends. This, the last zombie of 2011 and his little rabbit companion. Back in January, I started this endeavor on a lark. I assembled my first zombie and while thinking of what to say to introduce him to you, dear reader, a story about my new undead friend formed in my mind. So, a story is what I posted. It was fun and was met with approval, so I followed suit in February, then in March, and before I knew it, I had a right popular little project on my hands. But, like all good things, Zombie-A-Month 2011 has come to a close. I may bring the whole gang together for a shindig at the end of the year if I can get them all to stay still for a photo.
What does 2012 have in store? Well, I think I may have another monthly project waiting in the wings. They’re not zombies, but like our brain-munching pals, they are single-minded, relentless and tend to cause all kinds of trouble for us humans. Stay tuned . . .